My Thoughts With Ayodele Samuel
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For more than 70 days now, our Polytechnics across the country have been shut down and the estimated 3 to 4 Million students are now forced to sit at home idle with nobody showing any concern about their plight, and it is not known that President Goodluck Jonathan has said anything about it, or is he not aware of the strike?
If that is the case, we should all know that the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) is on strike, with the usual demand from government to honour its agreement: why is it that our government in this part of the World would sign agreements but would not meet its own part of the bargain? Same with electoral promises after getting votes of the people. Is it unmindful of the fact that these students, who are currently idle, might be forced to perpetrate evils acts against the country? God forbid, Nigerian students are God fearing and love their country, Nigeria. All they are asking is to be loved in return by enhancing their education and being gainfully employed when they finish their studies.
The problem between ASUP and Federal Government is long overdue and should have been resolved even before the union embarked on its strike, but it seems that those at the helm of affairs don't care about what is happening, they would rather wait to give amnesty to youths turned militants.
With ASUP recently saying, "going by the lip service the federal government is paying to Polytechnic education in the country, the strike would last as long as possible till the time the government listens and implements the agreement entered into," the students involved are in big trouble. And what happens to their parents, who are toiling day and night to pay their school fees? This is besides the challenges of underfunding of Polytechnics, Monotechnics and Colleges of Education, with the situation getting worse under the present administration.
The federal government has neglected these categories of higher learning. If the Universities can be regulated by a national commission (NUC), it's just in line that the polytechnics are also regulated by a commission, which is one of the agitations of the union.
The ongoing strike is also as a result of failure of most state governments to implement the approved salary package (COMPCASS) and 65 year retirement age in Polytechnics.
Another issue of concern for Nigeria Polytechnic students is the discrimination even among government agencies as University unions receive more attention just like its graduates in the labour market than the former.
Now this national embarrassment should stop, the government should as a matter of urgency sit with the polytechnics union to ensure students are returned to classes to continue their studies. Better still the Minister of Education needs to go back to the drawing board on the matter, and involve the Oga at the top so that the students can be recalled quickly.